T05191 Hastings engr. R. Wallis
Line-engraving 401 × 589 (15 3/4 × 23 3/16) on India paper laid on wove paper 621 × 830 (24 7/16 × 33 1/2); plate-mark 515 × 660 (20 5/16 × 26)
Engraved inscriptions: ‘J.M.W. TURNER, R.A.’ below image b.l., ‘R. WALLIS, 1851’. below image b.r.
Purchased (Grant-in-Aid) 1988
Prov: ...; N.W. Lott and H.J. Gerrish Ltd, from whom bt by Tate Gallery
Lit: Rawlinson II 1913, no.665, engraver's proof (b); Herrmann 1990, pp.237–8, 241, pls.191–2
Engraver's proof of plate published singly 1851. Original watercolour: British Museum (Wilton 1979, no.504).
‘Hastings’ appears to have been, with ‘Dover’ (Rawlinson II 1913, no.666), the last engraving to have been executed after Turner's work in his lifetime. Rawlinson records that the publisher, Edward Gambart, ‘had great difficulty in getting Turner to “touch” the Proofs, as he was then (1851) very ill, and did not wish anyone to know where he was living - viz., at Mrs. Booth's cottage ... at Chelsea, where he died’. Turner nevertheless still demanded his usual fee for touching proofs along with his customary fifty artist's proofs. ‘These Mr. Gambart was compelled to refuse, as he had pledged himself to publish no more than that number in all, and had accepted subscriptions on that understanding’. Although Turner eventually consented to touch two advanced proofs on receipt of his fee, he was too ill to undertake the work when the proofs were brought to him. Turner was apparently pleased with the proofs when he saw them and agreed that they might be published if Gambart could not wait until his recovery. Turner continued to insist on his artist's proofs but died before the engravings could be issued.
The published states of ‘Hastings’ were amongst the earliest prints after Turner to bear a Printsellers' Association stamp. Rawlinson describes how the association ‘was formed at about this time to prevent the manufacture of spurious Proofs, which had of late years become a scandal’. However, false proofs of ‘Hastings’, without any lettering, were apparently commonplace since the Printsellers' Association could ‘not prevent ... a worn plate being sold to an outside publisher who may reprint it without any lettering’ (Rawlinson II 1913, p.665).
The second and third states of this print were inscribed with a dedication to Charles Sackville Bale, the owner of the original watercolour. Robert Wallis (1794 –1878) executed several large steel plates after Turner, some of which, such as ‘The Approach to Venice’ (T05193), were completed after the artist's death. Wallis was a prolific engraver after Turner and was employed on nearly all the artist's important engraving projects from the 1820s onwards.
Tate Gallery: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions 1986-88, London 1996